Author: Seatt

Seattle Artist Tom Overhousen

Seattle resident artist Tom Overhousen explains his recent project

Generally when I’m moving through the forest, I’m drawn to relationships between trees or entire stands of trees, and looking at the way in which they are interconnected.

For this project, the “Upper Spoon” Endeavor, I decided I wanted to draw in and study just a single tree.

For that tree I chose a roughly 150-year-old Babcock. I chose it both for its shape and for its scale, but also because it’s so ubiquitous in the Northwest forest.

Making a plaster cast of an entire 140-foot tree certainly isn’t a practical decision, but in this case it was a very rewarding experience.

After protecting the tree, my team and I were up in the tree for nearly two weeks. And over that period of time, we were afforded, kind of, an intimacy with the tree
where we learned all of these nuances that we certainly might not have come across by just passing by.

We were able to see the way in which limbs might turn in a direction that you wouldn’t have expected, the way they would fan out as a kind of patterned group toward light in the canopy.

We would see a wound on the surface of the bark and ultimately each of these little things that we noticed in the tree created a kind of accumulative story that we were able to understand about the tree as it was reflected in its environment.

A big priority for the project was to directly involved as many people as we could in the actual creation of the sculpture. We began in SummitArt studios which has a glass storefront open to public sidewalks.

And we open the doors and put a small sign saying people were welcome to come in and join us. Hundreds of people took us up on this. Some people came in, maybe just for a few hours and contributed, while other people came back as often as a couple times a week throughout the course of the year.

We also set up pop-up workshops in unexpected places so that we would find people who might be interested in volunteering right on the spot.

We did this in the Seattle Art Museum’s Rainier Park pavilion, and we also took another tact where we pre-arranged a visit that we’d set up.

One instance of this was at the Pete’s Coffee headquarters in Downtown Seattle, where we worked on a series of limbs with almost a hundred of their employees over several days.

The wood we use to create the sculptures is Western Red Cedar, and it was salvaged from both an old downed tree, as well as some large logs that had once buttressed an 80-year-old bridge.

The team in my studio served as guides during the process, but ultimately each person that was participating would make their own choices according to how they wanted to build the sculpture against those molds.

They were asked to maintain a certain fidelity to what that mold was, but they would choose the scale, they would shape the part, and they would bond parts together in a way that made sense the them, and in a way that somehow reflected what they found interesting.

The work is continued in our main studio where we’ve become involved in some of the larger choices, in terms of how large sections of the trunk engage one another, and maybe most importantly, the way in which we gapped certain sections and I think that the gaps between sections of the trunk and the limbs offer compelling views into the interior shapes that we might not otherwise get to see.

Refining the sculpture was a very important part of the process.

Waterfront For All

Allied Arts asked members of the greater Seattle architectural design community to produce visions and renderings of what the Seattle Waterfront could become without the Alaskan Way Viaduct and prioritized as a place for people, not just a transportation corridor. Below are some of the highlights that illustrate the major themes from the collaborative.

Click here to view the complete Waterfront For All report in PDF format. (Please be patient…the report is large and requires several seconds to fully download for viewing.)

1) Terminal 46 near the sports stadiums is an 88-acre land filled pier at the south end of Seattle’s waterfront. That much land could be used for a variety of purposes. One idea is to create a mixed-income housing development for as many as 8,000 families.

2) An innovative idea for Terminal 46, which is currently a container-ship transfer station, is to provide temporary or transitional housing for low-income citizens. Done in New York and London, this use would allow the Port of Seattle to re-claim the land for shipping purposes if greater need arises.

3) Terminal 46 is also an opportunity to restore some of the natural environment that was destroyed as Seattle grew. Estuaries and islands could be created to provide wildlife habitat for fish and fowl, as well as recreation for people.

4) Tearing down the Alaskan Way Viaduct and digging a cut-and-cover tunnel will generate thousands of tons of rubble. An easy and effective solution to disposing of the waste is to recycle it into a grass-covered hill on Pier 46.

5) Like Mount Rainier, Seattle Center and the sports stadiums, Seattle’s Waterfront is a regional amenity. Residents of the Northwest and visitors alike will appreciate the new Waterfront if it’s authentic to the spirit and nature of Seattle. The Puget Sound ferry system is the largest in North America. Finding ways to highlight the ferries is one way to make sure the Waterfront is true to the region.

What Is Allied Arts?

Have You Met Allied Arts of Seattle?

Allied Arts Of Seattle is the oldest non-profit organization in Seattle dedicated to urban livability. Allied Arts is best known as the organization that worked to save the Pike Place Market and Pioneer Square, as well as to establish the Seattle Arts Commission. Since 1954, we’ve collaborated with an array of civic leaders and organizations to help maintain and improve Seattle’s quality of urban life.

Did You Know About The Beer And Culture Nights?

Allied Arts Beer and Culture Nights

Allied Arts was founded in 1954 under the name of “The Beer and Culture Society.” More than fifty years later, we still like that name so we’re honoring it with our “Beer and Culture Nights.”

By convening groups of smart, energetic and public-spirited citizens in an informal setting and by providing snack food, beer and a hot topic, we hope to inspire free-ranging and uninhibited discussion that will be enormously fun and can lead to civic action.

Suggested Donation: $20.00. Free to low-income. All donations appreciated, regardless of size. Your contribution supports Allied Arts.

Hello And Welcome Seattle!

Welcome To Allied Arts

The mission of Allied Arts is to enhance the cultural livability of Seattle and to create a social network of people who care about the Arts, Urban Design and Historic Preservation.

“For 50 years Allied Arts has been a voice for the quality of life in Seattle. That’s a voice we’ll need even more in the next 50 years.”

-Greg Nickels Mayor
City of Seattle

Allied Arts is best known as the organization that worked to save the Pike Place Market and Pioneer Square, as well as to establish the Seattle Arts Commission. Since 1954, we’ve collaborated with an array of civic leaders and organizations to help maintain and improve Seattle’s quality of urban life.

Seattle Waterfront For All

Allied Arts asked members of the greater Seattle architectural design community to produce visions and renderings of what the Seattle Waterfront could become without the Alaskan Way Viaduct and prioritized as a place for people, not just a transportation corridor. Below are some of the highlights that illustrate the major themes from the collaborative.